I’ve been sharing some key ways of finding the good in the bad things we go through down here on planet earth. We do that by understanding that we couldn’t climb high and gain success if the mountain was as smoothe as glass. We do that by understanding that the more amazing the success, the more difficult the journey. And we do that by understanding that we are sometimes tested not to show our weakness, but to discover or even grow our strengths!
I don’t know about you, but the difficulties I’ve been through have given me the strength I needed to deal with what was coming down the road a bit. God prepares us. Body builders have to strengthen their muscles in order to life heavier weights. Gymnasts need to strengthen their bodies in order to do all the amazing tricks.
Just as athletes must strengthen their bodies, we must strengthen our minds and our resolve in order to do the work the Lord has for us. Just to face the growing difficulties of life on a fallen world, we need to strengthen our character, our resolve, and our mindsets.
Strength is something often admired, but most people have no idea what it took to get there. Building strength in an area often takes difficulties endured that often look like trials and hardships. But they yield some amazing fruit!!
There is a line in the movie, Split, where the Beast says, “the broken are more evolved” and he spares the girl’s life because he tells her, “your heart is pure.”
This got me thinking about how I believe there is strength in suffering. Struggles, trials, and suffering are abundant in this life. If we think of our struggles as JUST difficulties to get through or to avoid, we miss the lessons and strength they can give us–even here in this fallen world.
The psychiatrist in the movie says that she believes those with this disorder are stronger than others and she illustrates by saying some are blind, but one of their personalities is able to see. The Beast goes through certain things in the movie and doesn’t get hurt when he most certainly should have.
Of course, this is a movie and not real life. However, I’ve found that the different kind of strength spoken of in this movie is spoken of in the Bible and reflected in my own lifetime of experiences with chronic illness and other difficult situations.
I’ve shared this before, but it bears repeating here. I once had a mammogram technician ask me if I’d been through a lot of struggle in my life. I admitted I had and asked her why. She told me that she’d noticed that people who have been through a lot in their lives are much less vocal about the difficulties with the whole mammogram experience, are more empathetic, and tend to be more compassionate .
The movie, Split, shows us that suffering gives you super powers and I maintain it does! Just not the kind in the movie. And my belief is backed by scripture as I’ll get into in a minute. My purpose for sharing this is to help those of you who struggle with chronic issues, especially those who can’t see a purpose in it, so that you might have a change of perspective from victim (or just a survivor) to a more heroic picture of someone who moves beyond surviving to inspire and lift up others.
Hebrews 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.“
Here are some ways in which the Bible tells us we gain by suffering:
Empathy: 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.“
1 Peter 4:10 “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.“
Strength of character: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
Appreciation for Joy (and ability to find joy and humor in dark places): Galations 6:3 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Perseverance: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” –James 1:2-4
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12
I talked a little about this in the beginning of this blog post, but…
Why is it that God allows some of us to struggle so with things? I believe these scriptures answer that quite eloquently:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5:10
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9
I believe that, ultimately, our sinful worldly existence will end and we’ll be with the Lord forever. Until then, our mission is to share the hope that is in Him and live by Galatians 5:14 “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”
If we truly love others as we love ourselves, we will have some super powers of understanding if we allow all our struggles and trials to strengthen us.